Print Cottonwood ends NAIPTA relationship
Written by Greg Ruland   
Monday, 28 November 2011 00:00

They parted on friendly terms. Each side expressed thanks for the many hours of work the other put into making CAT and Verde Lynx the rider-friendly public transportation service it is today.

Nevertheless, Cottonwood City Council effectively voted Nov. 15 to end its collaboration with Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority as of Sunday, Jan. 15.

A Verde Lynx bus, right, pulls up alongside a Cottonwood Area Transit bus at Garrison Park to transfer a passenger Thursday,  Nov. 17. The city of Cottonwood decided to end its participation in the Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority in January 2012 in favor of an enhanced partnership with Sedona and the Verde Lynx system.After that date, NAIPTA will have no hand in the operation of Verde Valley and Sedona commuter services.

The vote also approved a memorandum of understanding between Cottonwood and Sedona authorizing officials to negotiate a formal agreement for operating the CAT and Lynx services.

The memorandum of understanding does not require Cottonwood and Sedona to make an agreement. It directs the cities to negotiate how much each should be required to contribute financially to operate the systems.

The amount each side will contribute must be based on the “benefits [each city derives] from these transportation systems,” according to the memorandum of understanding.

The move has the support of Clarkdale, Yavapai County District 3 Supervisor Chip Davis, Arizona Department of Transportation and even NAIPTA, Community Services General Manager Richard Faust told council.

“Both [Clarkdale and Davis] have indicated strong interest in seeking this direction for our communities for a more localized Verde Valley transportation system,” Faust said.

NAIPTA General Manager Jeff Meilbeck, who also attended the meeting, said his organization understood and accepted the decision. He wished the city well and held open the possibility of a future reintegration.

“The state will support whatever choice is made here,” ADOT interim Section 5311 Grant Manager Matt Carpenter told council. “We will do everything to make sure the transition works well.”

Cottonwood and Sedona will need Section 5311 grant money to offset the costs of the newly organized CAT and Lynx public transportation services.

Meanwhile, NAIPTA announced that on Tuesday, Jan. 3, the Blue Route will be expanded to serve the Verde Villages, and the Red Route will add service to Yavapai Community College. Both routes will now run hourly. The Green Route will be eliminated and the Blue Route will run every 60 minutes instead of every 30 minutes.